Seesmic Releases Preview of Seesmic Desktop

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Date: Wednesday, April 8th, 2009, 17:22
Category: Software

Yesterday during a live presentation event, mirrored on Ustream, Seesmic demonstrated and released a preview version of their new social network gateway application, Seesmic Desktop.
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Seesmic is best known for their video, social networking service where users can exchange or broadcast video messages from their computer. Seesmic is also responsible for developing Twhirl, running on the Adobe Air platform, which allows management of their Seesmic videos as well as other social networks such as Twitter, FriendFeed, and Identi.ca in a single desktop application. Using Adobe Air allows Seesmic Desktop (and Twhirl) to run on any system capable of running the Air platform and provides feature parity, a definite plus for a small software company. The software should run on OS X, Windows 98, and Windows Vista. Support for Ubuntu is hopefully coming soon.
Tuesday night from their San Francisco location, Loic Le Meur, founder of Seesmic, demonstrated the new application that the company has been working on and describing the plans for the software. Seesmic Desktop will be eventually replacing Twhirl, but all of the features from the latter will be migrated to Seesmic Desktop. Le Meur stated that due to the small size of the company, it did not make sense to split their resources to maintain both applications. The preview version, released to members of Team Seesmic right after the demo, currently only manages multiple Twitter accounts, but other services will be added soon.
Thomas Knoll, Seesmic’s Community Advocate, explained that there is much to do, but that they had decided that they wanted to get the software into people’s hands to “kick the tires” and get suggestions for which features to prioritize. Thomas says that the objective of Seesmic Desktop is not just to act as a social service aggregator, but to eventually leverage features that will allow users to manage “communities” within all of their networks.
If you want to get your hands on the preview, go to the Seesmic web site and sign up for Team Seesmic. You will also need to install Adobe Air for your system.

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Recent Mac OS X 10.5.7 Beta Focuses on 100+ Fixes, Second Security Update for 2009

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Date: Wednesday, April 8th, 2009, 07:44
Category: Software

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A recent Mac OS X 10.5.7 beta has made its way among Apple developer with Apple apparently also beta testingits second security update of the year for certain Mac OS X distributions.
According to AppleInsider, build 9J44 of Mac OS X 10.5.7 was released to developers. The new beta arrives a little more than a week after the company issued build 9J39 and, per sources close to the story, offers a fix for a PDF font render along with four other fixes, thus bringing the number of documented code corrections to 104.
Similarly, the lone issue affecting the last several builds has been the inability to install Apple’s Safari 4 beta, which hasn’t been tweaked to run on the new system update.
Mac OS X 10.5.7, code-named Juno, is expected for a release sometime this month and reportedly weighs in at approximately 442MB. A combo updater capable of updating versions of Leopard prior to 10.5.6 and bundling earlier security improvements is currently about 730MB.
Where the second security update is concerned, Apple has reportedly tasked security experts with evaluating its second security update to Mac OS X of the 2009 calendar year. The release is said to be in testing for versions of Apple’s Mac OS X 10.4 operating system and a version for Mac OS X 10.5 has yet to be reported.
People familiar with the situation say Apple doesn’t brief its security testers on the improvements it bundles into beta security updates and instead asks them probe for holes blindly. As such, it’s not entirely clear what components of Tiger it targets, though the rumor is that it addresses a networking vulnerability.
Apple is expected to recommend the update “for all users” saying it “improves the security of Mac OS X.” Four different distributions are currently being evaluated: Tiger client (PPC), Tiger server (PPC), Tiger client (Intel), and Tiger server (Intel).
The latest known builds are reportedly 8S410 (PPC) and 8S2410 (Intel).

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Apple Releases iTunes 8.1.1 Update

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Date: Tuesday, April 7th, 2009, 06:17
Category: Software

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Late Monday, Apple released iTunes 8.1.1, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 68 megabyte download, offers the following fixes, changes and new features:

  • Adds support for renting HD movies.
  • Provides a number of bug fixes, including addressing issues with VoiceOver and syncing with iPhone or iPod touch.
  • iTunes 8.1.1 is available for free, requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run and can be snagged using Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

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    Next-Gen iPhone, iPod Touch Models to Support Faster, Low-Power 802.11n Protocol

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    Date: Monday, April 6th, 2009, 10:02
    Category: iPhone

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    A list of wireless radio component specifications found within beta distributions of the iPhone OS 3.0 firmware offers details for a new chip enabling low power 802.11n bound for the third-generation iPod touch handset. According to AppleInsider, the chip is also likely to be en route for Apple’s upcoming iPhone models.
    The version of the existing Broadcom chip that supplies WiFi and Bluetooth on existing models jumps from BCM4325 to BCM4329 in the description. The component upgrade adds new support for 802.11n features, including the ability to find and join 5GHz networks.
    Current iPhone and iPod touch generations provide support for 5GHz 802.11a networks, or 2.4GHz 802.11b/g networks, pushing users who want the top speed of 802.11n (available on all MacBooks) but compatibility with 802.11b/g networks (to use the existing iPhone) to set up a 2.4GHz compatible network. That resulting push forces the wireless network to deal with interference from other networks on the often-crowded 2.4GHz band.
    Apple’s latest firmware update for its AirPort base stations added support for dual-band networks, allowing both slow and fast devices to hook into 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz signals at the same time.
    New support for 802.11n in the upcoming iPhone and iPod touch models would also provide the devices with additional network speed and reception range features of the significantly faster 802.11n specification as well as channel bonding (using two channels at once to double the top reception speed) and MIMO, the ability to use multiple transmit and receive antennas to improve reception speed and range.
    The new device also focuses on efficient power management, with a special integrated PMU (power management unit) and a shared Bluetooth and WiFi receive signal path, which “eliminates the need for an external power splitter while maintaining excellent sensitivity for both Bluetooth and WLAN.”
    The new component could dramatically speed up WiFi throughput and flexibility as AT&T and other providers also upgrade their 3G networks to take advantage of parallel improvements in mobile 3G speed capacity expected in the new iPhone.

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    VLC Updated to 0.9.9a

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    Date: Monday, April 6th, 2009, 06:36
    Category: Software

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    Video Lan Client, the nigh-indispensable open source media player for multiple audio and video formats (MPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Divx, ogg, etc.), has recently been updated to version 0.9.9a. The new version, a 31.6 megabyte download, fixes the application’s behavior on PowerPC-based Macs and includes updated libraries for the Mac OS X platforms.
    VLC 0.9.9a requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run and is available as a free download.

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    Microsoft Drops Hints Regarding Office for the iPhone

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    Date: Friday, April 3rd, 2009, 08:37
    Category: iPhone, Software

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    Microsoft apparently still holds aspirations of delivering a version of Office to Apple’s iPhone handset, though some more development time may still be necessary.
    According to TechCrunch, Microsoft Business Division president Stephen Elop, speaking at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco on Wednesday, dropped hints to suggest that Office was bound to turn up on the Apple handheld device sometime soon.
    Elop later hedged his remarks when interviewer Tim O’Reilly probed him over the comments, admitting that the software isn’t ready quite yet and stating that hopefuls should “keep watching.”
    Over a year ago, Microsoft expressed “confidence” in its ability to deliver applications for the iPhone. At the time, Tom Gibbons, corporate vice president of the company’s Specialized Devices and Applications Group, indicated to Fortune that Office applications were a natural choice.
    “It’s really important for us to understand what we can bring to the iPhone,” he said. “To the extent that Mac Office customers have functionality that they need in that environment, we’re actually in the process of trying to understand that now.”
    Although the iPhone ships with built-in support for viewing Office documents, users wishing to make changes to those documents have had few options prior to this week’s announcement of Quickoffice, which will support editing (as well as creation of) Word and Excel documents when it’s released later this month.
    To date, Microsoft has become the largest software developer for the Mac outside of Apple, its Mac Business Unit estimated to generate revenues in excess of $350 million and profits of over US$200 million each year.

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    VMWare Releases Fusion 2.0.3

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    Date: Friday, April 3rd, 2009, 08:23
    Category: Software

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    Late Thursday, virtualization softare maker VMWare released version 2.0.3 of its Fusion software for the Mac.
    Similar to other virtualization software packages, VMWare allows users to run alternate operating systems such as Windows and Linux distributions on Intel-based Macs at native speeds. Other features, such as Unity, allow users to run and minimize Windows applications from the Mac OS X Dock.
    The new version, a 286 megabyte download, offers the following new features and fixes:

  • Resolves an issue where driverless printing stops working for users that run Mac OS X 10.5.6, and installed Apple Mac OS X Security Update 2009-001. The shared printers would disappear from Windows. If you configured your printer differently as a workaround, turn on driverless printing feature again by clicking Virtual Machine > Settings, selecting Printers, and selecting the Enabled check box.
  • Provides experimental support for Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server as a guest operating system. You can now run the current Snow Leopard Server builds (32-bit kernel) in a virtual machine.
  • Resolves an issue with driverless printing, where the Enabled check box on Virtual Machine > Settings > Printers might get deselected automatically.
  • The software requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run and retails for US$79.99.

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    VLC Updated to 0.9.9

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    Date: Friday, April 3rd, 2009, 08:36
    Category: Software

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    Video Lan Client, the nigh-indispensable open source media player for multiple audio and video formats (MPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Divx, ogg, etc.), has recently been updated to version 0.9.9. The new version, a 19.2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

  • Fullscreen behaviour on Windows with multiple screens.
  • Workaround bug with libxml2 >=2.7.3.
  • Video performance on Intel-based Macs.
  • Various decoders updates on Windows.
  • VLC 0.9.9 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run and is available as a free download.

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    Apple Clamping Down on Jailbreaking, Other Practices with Latest iPhone NDA

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    Date: Thursday, April 2nd, 2009, 08:19
    Category: iPhone, Legal

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    With iPhone OS 3.0 en route, Apple appears to be taking a more aggressive stance against develops writing applications for jailbroken iPhone handsets. Per an Ars Technica article, Apple has recently updated its “iPhone Developer Program License Agreement”, the new version explicitly disallowing jailbreaking, assisting in jailbreaking, and developing and distributing jailbreak apps.
    The report goes on to mention that while previous agreements forbade the creation of apps that violate privacy, facilitate crimes, or violate intellectual property laws, the new one restricts developers from jailbreaking their own phones.
    Back in February, Apple publicly defined its legal stance on iPhone jailbreaking, arguing that it represents copyright infringement and a DMCA violation. During this time, an Electronic Frontier Foundation proposal asked for an exemption that would allow jailbreaking of iPhones or other handsets, effectively liberating the devices to run applications other than those obtained from Apple’s own iTunes App Store.
    The report also states that developers are also “forbidden from using the iPhone OS, SDK, or other developer tools to develop applications for distribution in any way other than the App Store or Ad Hoc distribution.” The new changes place significant restrictions on distribution, which is now only available via the App Store at Apple’s sole discretion.
    The report also notes that updated segments of the NDA specifically restrict jailbreaking or circumventing the iPhone’s built-in OS security. Though such agreements aren’t likely to entirely prevent third-party developers from writing applications, they will likely discourage developers from submitting their unapproved or rejected app on other distribution outlets that offer alternatives for customers interested in buying, testing, or installing with their software.
    The text defining these restrictions reads as follows:

    (e)You will not, through use of the Apple Software, services or otherwise, create any Application or other program that would disable, hack or otherwise interfere with the Security Solution, or any security, digital signing, digital rights management, verification or authentication mechanisms implemented in or by the iPhone operating system software, iPod touch operating system software, this Apple Software, any services or other Apple software or technology, or enable others to do so; and
    (f) Applications developed using the Apple Software may only be distributed if selected by Apple (in its sole discretion) for distribution via the App Store or for limited distribution on Registered Devices (ad hoc distribution) as contemplated in this Agreement.

    Last September, Apple extended its iPhone Developer NDA by restricting the information that developers could discuss publicly by telling developers in its App Store rejection letters that “the information contained in this message is under non-disclosure.” While discussion of details in iPhone development is generally restricted, numerous developers have complained publicly about rejections without repercussion.
    If you have two cents to hurl in about this, let us know in the comments or forums.

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    OmniWeb Updated to 5.9.2

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    Date: Thursday, April 2nd, 2009, 07:31
    Category: Software

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    Late Wednesday, Omni released version 5.9.1 of its OmniWeb web browser. The new version, a 23.3 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

  • Implemented support for the Gopher protocol–a first for WebKit-based browsers.
  • OmniWeb 5.9.2 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.
    If you’ve played with the new version and noticed any major improvements or shortcomings, let us know in the comments or forums.

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